Today’s Reading: Acts 13:50-52 The Message
50-52Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave. Paul and Barnabas shrugged their shoulders and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples.
Acts 13:51 NIV
So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.
A little bit of pot stirring has the power to incarcerate Christ’s message, if we choose to let it. Paul and Barnabas knew it would be hard for their Jewish brothers to let go of their time-honored traditions and religious rules long enough to see the salvation that has come through Jesus Christ. While many people experienced the breath of a Holy Spirit flame, there were others who could not and would not open their hearts to the possibility of new life. And, as a result, they began to stir up a riot against two innocent men who cared enough to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in their community.
Have you, in anger, ever stirred the proverbial pot against another, sharing confidential and personal information adding a little bit of your own unsavory slant? Did your words and actions cause someone else to reject that person out of disgust? Our words and our actions have weight. We can cut others to the quick in the mere blink of an eye. Have you ever been the primary target of a pot stirring?
It is not always easy in today’s culture to share our faith with others. We have created copious laws to protect people’s rights to believe what they want to believe without a balanced response from others who may see things differently. Unfortunately, we humans have placed a personal gag order on our own ability to share personal faith experiences with the people God has placed in our lives. The fear of rejection is never an easy pill to swallow; I think it hurts the most when we are rejected by the people with whom we are closest to. Paul and Barnabas knew the high cost of personal rejection. They knew they were putting their lives on the line for Christ. Yet, they cared more about getting His Word out than remaining safe and popular inside the walls of their own religious sect. They also had been given permission to simply walk away, if necessary.
It is a good thing that we are not responsible for the act of salvation. The Father’s plan is already in place. Jesus Christ, His Only Son, took care of salvation once and for all on Calvary’s tree. The power of the Holy Spirit is not subject to the laws of man. We can put up our brick walls, but the Spirit moves where it will, and if the walls are going to fall, they will – not by man’s efforts but by God’s glory! Human hearts can be changed in a moment’s notice. Our timing is certainly not God’s timing and His ways are not our ways. Paul and Barnabas continued to plant seeds of faith, knowing the seed would fall and take root in the fertile hearts of men and women who were earnestly seeking the Savior. No amount of pot stirring or back stabbing could stop the winds of the Spirit moving in and through their cities. Faith in Christ did not hinge on human words alone, nor did it need to instantly convert everyone in its hearing to validate Christ’s message.
When it comes to sharing our faith in Jesus Christ, we can follow the lead of Paul and Barnabas even today! Do not hesitate to share your personal witness, for your faith story is the most important truth you will ever tell. Do not worry whether folks choose to believe you, or if they decide to stir the proverbial pot against you. We do what the Lord asks us to, and when we’re finished, we simply shake the dust from our feet, and move on in faith. Our joy is not bound to statistical tables and cultural trends; all of these are man’s markers for perceived successes or failures. Our only joy; our only hope is in the full obedience of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world, and trusting our Lord completely for His harvest. Paul and Barnabas were two very happy disciples, as they left Antioch and moved on to Iconium. Have you found true happiness in the Lord Christ Jesus today?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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